By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — For four years we’ve watched and wondered: Will anyone ever move into the newly refurbished downtown Minneapolis Dayton’s?

Untold millions spent to gut and bring the building back to life. This is a pivotal week for the Dayton’s Project.

READ MORE: An Inside Look At The New Dayton's Project

Anchoring Nicollet Mall since 1902, this is the building where millions went to shop. It’s where the original idea for Target was hatched.

Since 2017 it’s been empty. Thursday, that changes.

“It’s very, very exciting,” Mich Berthiaume said. “I think we’ve been anticipating this for such a long time.”

Berthiaume is the maven of Minnesota makers markets.

Thirty-five local vendors are setting up beneath the chandelier that used to light up the Max Factor and Revlon counters. From clothing vendors and candle makers to jewelry artists and tech innovators.

READ MORE: Finding Minnesota: Minnetrista Man Brings Dayton's Original Christmas Displays Back To Life

(credit: CBS)

The Departments at Dayton’s hopes to spark a light inside this amazing space.

“It’s an honor to do this, it’s also become mission-driven for me,” Berthiaume said. “Downtown is our core, and Dayton’s was the foundation of that starting in 1902. And I think this gives great purpose, between this building and the history and having the local brands, and that people can shop those local brands.”

There’s a huge number of Black, women and minority-owned vendors, including 15 Native American-owned businesses who will set up in the old JB Hudson space.

“I think when changes occur, such as COVID, new brands pop up,” Berthiaume said. “Seeing a new brand and a new concept and jumping in on that newness for Dayton’s.”

“There’s so much history and so many stories,” she added, “and every person who comes in here has a story.”

MORE NEWS: Departments At Dayton's To Feature 30 Vendors

Holiday windows will be back, too. They’ll be unveiled at the grand opening Thursday morning.

Jason DeRusha